the Buzz for June 18th, 2008


If nothing else, at least she had the good sense to leave Tom Waits’ true classics alone.

As interesting a concept as it is at heart, I’m not sure the world at large was crying out en masse for a covers album of Waits tunes, and certainly not one performed by a young woman who, no matter how limp and uninspired she is as an actress, proves definitively inside of eight bars that she’s an even worse singer. Nevertheless, Scarlett Johansson (she of Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides and The Horse Whisperer) has given us Anywhere I Lay My Head, a tepid collection of lesser-known Waits compositions that might just be the aural equivalent of a burst appendix.

Even understanding that Waits himself couldn’t sing his way out of any given shower — vocal prowess was never his trump card — Johansson’s work on Anywhere stands as a marvel of godawful execution. Every song sounds as if she shouted all the lyrics through the recording studio’s ventilation system and left the mics to capture whatever they could; even on the record’s lone interesting track, “Falling Down,” you can scarcely make out a word she’s singing.

The entire project is a wall-to-wall disaster, made all the more shameful by remembering just how many brilliant Tom Waits covers — Rod Stewart’s peerless take on “Downtown Train,” for example, or Tori Amos’ heartwrenching reading of “Time,” or Shawn Colvin’s bittersweet version of “Ol’ 55” — are already in existence. And as you’re reaching for the Aleve at album’s end, you’re left only to be unspeakably grateful that Johansson, in her impossibly arrogant vanity, didn’t decide to tackle those as well.


their piercing sounds fill my ears

posted at 12:58 am by brandon in now hear this

Today, the Buzz leaps across the pond to acquaint you with three young women who are all gorgeous, who each have hot new albums to promote, and who are collectively the most sizzling British imports (one of them, crazy enough, by way of Stockholm) this side of fish and chips.

Her given name is Robin Carlsson, but you’ll probably recognize her better as Robyn. In the spring of 1997, with “MMMBop” and “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” leading the charge as the earth-shattering teen pop explosion was just gathering its initial head of steam, Robyn slipped in quietly through the back door with a pair of ridiculous-but-fun radio singles (the bouncy “Do You Know (What It Takes),” with that irresistibly stupid “always be uh-reowwwwwwnd” refrain, and its follow-up, the slightly meatier “Show Me Love”), and, although it seemed as though an instant pop star had been minted, all she ultimately succeeded in doing was niftily foreshadowing the momentous arrival of Miss Britney a mere twelve months later.